It’s another picross game! But this one is different! And isn’t by Jupiter!
Sure, it’s still picross. PictoQuest adds light RPG elements to the formula though, with items and powerups and baddies to “fight” by completing rows and columns in the grids.
Which all sounds perfect, until I completed it and realised I’d totally ignored absolutely everything to do with the RPG stuff as it’s entirely unnecessary and does nothing. Sure, perhaps if you’re very, very, very slow completing the levels there’s a slim chance you might die, but other than that this is almost exactly like a Jupiter picross game. I didn’t use a single item, die, or even pay attention to what the baddies were doing. I did buy the extra hearts from the shop mainly as something to spend my accrued money on, but I didn’t need them as I was rarely damaged.
As a picross game, though, it’s great. It’s just everything else that’s pointless.
Yes, it’s another Lego game. Which means that it’s the same as all the other Lego games, right? Well, no actually. In several important ways.
Of course, the basic gameplay is mostly unchanged. You go around a level, solve little puzzles and generally smash everything you come across, but this game (and it’s possible the Lego Incredibles and Lego DC Super Villains do the same – I’ve yet to play them) is more open world and far less linear than previous Lego titles. Rather than levels, as such, you have a number of planets. Each has a pretty large unrestricted area to explore, with a number of “missions” in each – find items, do fetch quests, kill X number of baddies, and so on.
Instead of gold bricks, there are now purple sparkly bricks to collect. On each world you need a number of these to progress to the next, and they can be obtained from missions as well as found hidden – and not so hidden – around the map. Red bricks are gone, replaced with special items you can collect that do similar things to the red bricks (2x multiplier, shield, “super” weapons, etc.) but you can’t use them all at the same time.
Also new to the series is the ability to build things. You’d think, being Lego, that would have been there all along – but in fact previously you could only build pre-determined items in pre-determined places. Here, once you have the blueprint, you can build what you want pretty much anywhere. Most things are small and provide specific functions – a generator, a water sprinkler, a trampoline, various vehicles – but there are huge structures that are of use on one almost-empty world that you need to populate.
Perhaps the biggest change, however, is you don’t need different characters to do certain tasks. Before, you’d need a character with a gun to shoot targets, or a character with super-strength to break certain objects. Part of the game would be unlocking all these characters, but in The Lego Movie 2 Videogame, it seems every character can do everything – one you’ve unlocked the skills through the story anyway. It streamlines things but loses a bit of what makes a Lego game a Lego game, I think.
Speaking of the story, it vaguely follows the plot of the film although almost as a sort of side story, spending lots of time on bits that barely got screen time, or entire sections I don’t remember from the film at all. Maybe it was based on an early draft of the screenplay, or perhaps they added bits to flesh it out? It’s also not as funny as either the film or other Lego games. There are no jokes, no silliness, and a lack of random pigs, sausages and toilets. And I’m serious in that this takes a lot away from the game, especially since the source material is supposed to be funny. You could forgive Lego Jurassic World or something not having jokes (but it did), but you can’t here.
Finally, it’s short. Very short. Way back when, the likes of Lego Star Wars III or Lego Marvel Super Heroes would take 30+ hours just to finish the story (albeit with a good 30 more to 100% it). More recently, 10-12 hours (with about 10-12 more) seemed to be the length. This game, however, I completed in co-op in under 5 hours. That’s really, really short for a Lego game. Almost one sitting, in fact. Yes, we’re only 40% complete, but even then that implies 12-13 hours total for 100%. Perhaps the open-world nature of it, when played in two player so both are achieving different goals at the same time, might be some of the reason.
All that said, it still plays really well. I like some of the new stuff, I don’t really like the changes to how characters work or the lack of humour, but it’s still a good game. Just not one of the better Lego games. Also: it’s “video game” not “videogame”, TT Games/Lego/Warner/whoever.
As I got closer to the end of this game, I realised that I’d almost certainly never completed it. I recognised every level up until the 7th one (in the cave), and then have vague memories of a castle, but I think the castle memory may even have come from the Mega Drive Alex Kidd game.
I also realised why I don’t think I’ve completed it. There are a few tricky sections (the one near the end with the spikes in the water can do one, for example), but the main reason was that winning relies entirely on luck! The janken matches are seemingly random, and you’ve no way of telling what your opponent is going to choose. At least in Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle there’s a power up that lets you see what they’re thinking, but in the Master System version? It’s all guesswork.
Other than that, it’s a pretty decent game. Alex slides all over the place as he has weird physics and friction, and the collision detection is a bit rubbish (the octopus and the samurai bosses in particular). The question mark blocks are also almost always worth ignoring too, meaning they’re pointless – most of the time they have that baddie that just homes in on you, so it’s not worth the risk.
Not the best Sega Ages re-release on the Switch, but I got it in a sale so I’m not disappointed.
A lot has been said about how terrible the Switch version of Bloodstained is compared to the other platforms it’s available for. Low quality graphics, 30fps not 60, longer loading times, and so on. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I don’t actually care. It’s the version I wanted, and short of being broken (and it’s not) it doesn’t matter to me about the rest. And I was right, as it’s pretty much a perfect Castlevania game and I enjoyed it very much.
We all know it’s by Iga, so is going to be the most Castlevania game ever, but I wasn’t expecting it to be almost literally Castlevania in every way possible. Every baddie is a reskin of a classic CV foe, every character is analogous to someone from a CV game. There’s a castle, there’s a vampire, and although it’s named differently, Soma’s (from Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow) soul mechanics are here too. All it’s missing is an end boss called Dracula and Castlevania in the name.
As a Castlevania game, after completing it, I felt I needed to get 100% of the map (or 100.4% or whatever it is here), but unfortunately I’ve reached 99.8% and I’m stuck as to where I haven’t opened up. I’ve resorted to checking completely unlocked maps online and comparing them with mine, and I’ve found every single hidden room shown. I’ve no idea where the remaining ones are.
“How do you complete a game where you make your own levels?”, you may ask. Well, because there’s a pretty sizeable single player mode where Nintendo show you loads of ways you might want to make levels, by giving you a hundred or so levels to work through.
I’m always astounded at the creativity Nintendo have with Mario games. You’d have thought that every possible idea in platforming has been done now, but nope – most of these levels have a new gimmick, or at the very least, a twist on a previous one. As you complete them you gain coins, and you use these coins to rebuild Peach’s castle (for unimportant story reasons).
New items for use in your home made courses are unlocked as you go along, so there’s another reason for playing Story Mode too.
As well as completing that, I’ve also played 30 or so user-made levels, which, like the first game, vary enormously. Some are huge and complicated with puzzles or skill sections, and some are little more than items placed at random on the screen. I’ve also made a terrible, short level of my own with a toilet in it, because of course I have. The ID, if you want to play it, is 3P7-5JL-CTG.
If, like me, you were very much interested in My Friend Pedro off the back of its surprise showing at E3 last year, you may be a little disappointed to discover that it isn’t quite the dual-wielding slow motion ballet that presentation would have you to believe. But, you’ll realise that’s probably most likely for the best.
You see, all that is there. Jumping and spinning to avoid gunfire, and returning bullets in two directions at once is still a large part (and it is always impressive and makes you feel like a Big Man) of the game, but it isn’t as relentless as shown. There are platforming sections. Lasers to avoid. A bizarre level where you have a propellor hat so can effectively fly. A section on a motorbike. Door and trapdoor opening puzzles. Lots of things, in fact.
Also perhaps a surprise is how the game is actually geared towards score combo and high score arcade type play. On Normal mode, the game isn’t very difficult, checkpoints are frequent, and it’s very forgiving with plenty of aim assist and reminders to dodge bullets if you’d forgotten. It’s running through quickly, cleanly, and seeking out every baddie that nets you the big points, so the three or four hours length is mostly irrelevant. Now, I’m not a score chaser generally so that doesn’t really interest me, but the game is still great anyway.
Many people wondered how the dual aiming would work, worrying the game would be on-rails if the two analogue sticks were busy, but in fact it’s pretty simple – you lock on to one foe first, then you are free to target a second and can shoot both together. It works well, but it turns out that it isn’t used as frequently as you maybe thought. Indeed, later weapons aren’t even dual-wieldable.
So it might not be quite what I was expecting, or perhaps I’d say hoping for, but in fact it seems the game knew what I really actually wanted more than I did because the deviations from the original reveal videos are welcome and I suspect too much of the same thing would have made it a bit of a chore. It’s definitely recommended if you want what could be described as Olli Olli only Bulletstorm, but even if you’re not after a score attack game it’s funny and stylish and unusual enough to warrant a purchase anyway.
Golf Peaks is a little puzzle game where you have to get the golf ball in the hole. However, unlike actual golf, you use card with distances on for your “shots”, and various surfaces act upon your ball – stop it dead, kick it in the air, make it slide, etc.
Each “world” has it’s own new gimmick across its 12 levels, and when you’ve completed at least 9 of them you move on to the next level.
It’s quite simple, both to play and in presentation, and although a handful of the levels had me thinking for some time I’ve not really struggled. It’s no Baba is You as far as the difficulty level is concerned. With 109 levels, many of which take only a few seconds, it’s not exactly long either, but it’s certainly interesting and as it’s really cheap on the eShop at the moment it’s definitely worth a purchase.
Is Golden Axe III going to be a good game, given the previous two were not? Go on, have a guess.
At least it tried. Instead of being almost exactly the same as the other games, the graphics are all new, the animation is new, and most of the baddies are new. Reminiscent of those before, but new. There’s a different art style too, but actually, it’s worse. And there are two new characters but they’ve relegated the best one – Gillius Thunderhead – to a little less than a narrator role. You can’t play as him. I chose Tyris Flare instead, who now has ridiculous beefcake muscles.
They’ve improved the “AI” so the enemies no longer blindly walk off ledges, and for the most part the old running attack left and right “trick” isn’t possible any more. But sadly, this doesn’t really improve things. Golden Axe III is actually worse, somehow, than its predecessors.
Pikuniku is a… game best discovered for yourself. Partly because that’s genuinely true, but also because it’s a little hard to describe. Sure, I can tell you it’s a sort of platformer with puzzles and bosses, and there’s a lot of kicking things, but that’s not really describing the game.
No, the game is unusual. Both in style and content. There’s a plot about a guy who gives out free money, there’s a leaf-based underground resistance, and there’s a section where you have a beat a robot in a dance-off. Oh, and you’re a monster (except you’re not), and later on you get a hat with a hose on it so you can water things.
It doesn’t make sense when I write about it, and frankly doesn’t make much more sense when you play it, but it’s quirky and jolly and fun and if that isn’t enough to make you want to play it then you’re all sorts of wrong inside.
I’m not sure what exactly is “remastered” about this game, having no experience of the original. An original which is only a few years old itself, actually. I’m also not sure what sort of game it’s trying to be.
To look at the screenshots, it’s probably trying to channel Flashback or Blackthorne, or both. When you play it, however, it isn’t. There’s a bit of the Mega Drive Alien 3 game in there. Sure, there’s some Flashback. Some Gunpoint. Some Another World. As you move from Earth to another planet, then explore that planet, not only do the locations change graphically, byt the gameplay does too. You’re no longer a sneaky hacker – you’re a man with a gun. Only then you don’t have a gun, but you can teleport and move things with your mind instead. And then! To end it all, it’s a bullet hell shooter only you can’t shoot.
There’s platforming and puzzles. Reaction tests and timing tests. Infuriating “remember the sequence or fry” sections. Buttons to push, spikes to avoid, hoverbikes to pilot, monsters to run from, and lots more. It’s varied for sure, but that also causes a problem – it masters none of these.
Some of the puzzles are just too obscure with no clues. Some of the platforming is hit and miss as to whether you’ll grab a ledge or drop on some spikes (or sometimes, grab a ledge then drop off onto the spikes anyway because bugs). I found your shield power that you have use of for some of the game regularly failed to “initialise” so didn’t reflect enemy fire as it should, killing me. Collision detection isn’t great, so combined with wonky jumping inertia also led to many avoidable deaths. Thankfully, checkpoints are frequent so little progress is lost when you do die.
The plot of the game is mostly fine – guy’s wife dies, so he goes off to find the Pyramid of Eternal Life or something to revive her, which fortuitously happens to be on the very planet his job sent him to to research. The stuff that happens along the way (aha!) is nonsense though. Magically from nowhere a bounty hunter stumbles across you? A tribe who tried to kill you start worshipping your dead wife because… well, I’m not really sure why. They also welcome your new “pet” – a massive tigerdogbeast whose parent previously terrorised them.
Issues aside, there’s an important point to make in this game’s favour: it was 89p. And for 89p there’s a lot of game here. A lot of good ideas, if a bit poorly executed. It’s definitely worth 89p. Knowing what I do now, however (and I’d gone in pretty blind), I’m glad I didn’t pay full price and I can’t recommend you do either.
One final question: Why is The Way Remastered rated a PEGI 16? There was nothing in there I’d consider more than a PEGI 7, so even a PEGI 12 would be overkill. Did I miss something?
Imagine if Downwell’s graphics were applied to Super Metroid, only you were a cat? That’s Gato Roboto. How could I not buy it then complete it in one afternoon given that description?
Turns out it’s really very good too. There’s absolutely more than a few nods to Metroid (there’s one area which even has a similar layout to part of that game), but it’s a lot shorter, a lot easier, a lot weirder (cats in mech suits are just the start), and it’s all in black and white.
It also turns out that being all in black and white isn’t the limitation you might think it would be. Even in the lava filled area, the lava looks hot and dangerous even though its, well, not lava coloured.
There’s a nice array of bosses, some great Metroid-y ability upgrades (like a double jump) and a map with lots of squares to fill in as you find them. OK, so they don’t get filled in blue but that’s not really an issue. Jumping around feels perfect, and there’s a few areas where you have to chain moves together and it all feels just right, as it should.
It took me just shy of three hours to finish, but the end screen says I’ve only found 66% of stuff so there’s still more to go. Wonder if there’s a different ending for the full 100%?
I’ve had my eye on this for a while what with the cute elephant and the lovely looking world. Got round to it yesterday and completed it today, and it’s very nice indeed.
I won’t go into it too much, but it’s short and sweet, with some mostly simple puzzles and very simple combat, but sometimes you just want something low impact like that with really nice graphics and an unusual world to run round in for a bit.
Yooka-Laylee, or Yooka hyphen hyphen Laylee if we are to take the logo as canon, is – in case you’re not aware – the most Banjo-Kazooie game since Banjo-Kazooie. This is, of course, completely intentional and the entire point of the game’s Kickstarter campaign. It’s also the reason I (eventually) bought it.
Many people have slated Yooka-Laylee for a number of reasons. It’s a relic of a past age of collect-em-up 3D platformers. It’s rather too close to the source material. It suffers from weird glitches and framerate issues. It’s just not very good. To all of these I mostly agree, except the last one. Because it’s very good.
OK, so it isn’t as good as Banjo-Kazooie. But it is almost as much fun and certainly much more accessible. It looks and sounds how you remember that game did rather than actually how that game did. All the characters have Rare-Eyes. Everyone speaks in that grating nonsensetalk way. The music! Oh my, the glorious music. The casino level in particular is incredible, but more than just the compositions, it’s the way – like the older games – as you move around the levels the music changes with you. It becomes more sinister, more happy, more… dirty, depending where you go. It’s The Best Music.
But we don’t usually play games for the music (OutRun excepted). Thankfully, Yooka-Laylee is great other than that. Big worlds (that can be made bigger), funny characters and dialogue, and tough but fair challenges to get Pagies – the main collectable. I say main because this is Rare^H^H^H^HPlaytonic we’re talking about – there’s Pagies, quills, coins, tokens, ghosts, and all sorts to pick up.
The freedom to the levels is clever too. You don’t have to 100% each to move on, and you can expand each in any order providing you have enough Pagies to do so. I was a little worried it was possible to do stuff out of order in such a way you were locked out of Pagies for progression, but it seems not. With 140 of these things in total (and 100, how many I got) needed to complete the game, it isn’t a short task either.
So, if you were a fan of Banjo-Kazooie, you need to get this. Don’t expect everything to have been 100% updated for the modern gamer, but be pleasantly surprised that it isn’t as old-hat as you were expecting.
One of the (few) complaints I’ve seen people level at Yoshi’s Crafted World is that it is too easy. That none of the levels are a challenge. That the bosses are all a breeze to take down. Indeed, I’ve reached the end and beaten the final boss and I’ve barely a scratch. But that’s not the point.
Like previous Yoshi games, it’s easy for anyone to “complete”. To get all the secrets – all the flowers, red coins, hidden souvenirs, finish each level with full health, find all the Poochies on the flip side, finish the extra levels unlocked after the final boss – to get all of that, requires a heroic effort.
I’ve not given this game such an effort yet. But I did enjoy my path to the end. I tried to 100% it on the way but after a couple of levels where I didn’t on my first try I thought I’d leave it and come back. It’s a beautiful looking game, and it does that great Nintendo thing of being crammed with a million different brilliant ideas (in most graphics and gameplay), rarely to ever re-use them. You can imagine an entire game based around the Rhinono level or the creepy teddies with axes level or the duelling boats level or the solar powered racers level, but here Nintendo throw it at you then discard it immediately. How do they come up with so many ideas?
Judging from some of the requirements to get 100% I’m not sure I’ll ever make it, but I’ll certainly try for a higher percentage than I’m currently at!
I was pretty sure that Golden Axe II was a better game than Golden Axe I. And I’d remembered correctly – as it is. But it’s still almost exactly the same game only with more pink and purple, a better (for Gilius at least – I only ever play as him) special attack.
Both “tricks” from the previous game still happen here, and for this one Sega Mega Drive Classics actually has an achievement for doing it enough times:
The other trick is the “running headbutt” one, and that’s still alive and well here too. Some of the baddies have evolved to make it a little harder – the giant dog things with maces, for example, now try to Tiger Knee you mid-dash. I also found a new trick which I don’t think worked before:
The bosses were also quite a bit easier than the original game, especially the final boss who rarely actually hits you. The big headless knights can’t be beaten like their headed counterparts (headbutt or jump-slash), but if you walk diagonally into them you can axe them before they attack so they’re actually easier to dispatch.
Graphically, the game seems better looking but the giant turtle and eagle based levels are replaced with just normal paths and caves, and the previously mentioned pink and purple enemies are a bit garish. The music, as ever, is great though.